Thursday, March 12, 2009

Synthetic Chemical Skincare vs Organic Botanical Skincare

What Do You Look For?

As we all know there are so many skincare products on the market to choose from, the task of choosing the right one can be daunting. What's in it?....How is it represented?....What does it cost?......Is it attractive? Well, it actually boils down to the proof is in the puddin'!

The decision to make a choice comes from many factors but only the last example is what matters:
  • Pricing ~ High or low. Some will shop according to budget and others think unless it is sporting a high price tag it isn't any good or won't work. The same can be true for really inexpensive products, the saying "you get what you pay for" rings true in this instance, but you certainly don't need to pay $100.00 to $200.00 an ounce to get a great skincare product.
  • Packaging ~ Expensive packaging captures our sense of value as to the level of how well something works when very little value is actually placed within the products. This includes the high tech scientific packaging that creates a belief it is the most innovative when most of the ingredients have been around for years.
  • Name Recognition ~ We are bombarded with commercials singing the praises of a long standing company's products, and we purchase on emotion rather than what is actually offered inside.
  • A Name With Innuendo ~ This captures a thought then creates a belief in our head which responds to a promise a name might offer. (ie; Age Reversal, Botox in a bottle, Anti-aging)
  • Sales Pitch ~ These are fine unless the person doing the pitching has little to no real knowledge as to what is in the products or how they work.
  • Ingredients ~ Can be synthetically created or will be comprised of Organic botanicals in their purest forms to maintain the healing essences for which they are used.
Although all of these things matter to a degree in order to capture the senses of the consumer, the majority of these things are irrelevant if what is inside the package is useless and serves only to create hype surrounding a product.

Chemicals In My Skincare Jar

Natural or synthetically derived products carry with them the process to have them reach their safe form for use in cosmetics. Many of us don't realize what goes into creating an ingredient and what other chemicals are utilized in order to have the finished product be safe. An example of how a synthetically derived ingredient goes from an impurity to a cosmetically safe one is described in my Bismuth Oxychloride Article.

This is not to say that all ingredients that are chemically synthesized are bad for the skin since minerals and iron oxides must go through a chemical process in order for them to be safe to be used in cosmetics. Nothing mined from the earth intended for cosmetics are safe for skin without going through this process. It is more about the level of chemical manipulation in order to create a safe ingredient. Bismuth Oxychloride to be achieved must go through several levels of extreme chemical manipulation in order to make the impure form of bismuth, pure, since in its' raw form it is chemically related to arsenic.

Skincare Improved With Organic Botanicals

Botanicals in most cases are gently extracted through steam distillation, cold pressed, expeller-pressed and in some cases will be chemically extracted such as the case of Grapefruit Seed Extract. Finding this ingredient in its pure form today is not always the case since it is typically solvent extracted. Not to be confused with Grapeseed Oil as its' benefits remain the same of what this oil can offer skin.

Dr. Perricone has the right idea and has written books on the subject about what we put into our bodies as well as what we put on them, and the ramifications which can occur from this. The only reason I furrow my brow at some of what he proclaims, is in his own skincare line of products he utilizes silicone oils, (Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone) propylene glycol, SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) and parabens. I simply don't understand utilizing a few botanical ingredients for the benefit of skin and anti-aging only to permeate them with a full range of synthetic chemicals? This contradicts the basis for why we use organic products in the first place, and there is nothing holistic about his very expensive line of products as he promotes in his books. What is interesting about this as well, a botanical ingredient is far more expensive than a synthetic one in most cases, so what constitutes his price point?........I have no idea!

Understanding Skin Sensitivity Causes

When using either formulation of skincare products whether they are filled with synthetics or with botanicals for fighting aging, it is important to understand the differences and how skin will react. Botanicals just like synthetics can cause a skin sensitivity to an individual, much in the same way a person might be allergic to grasses or pollens in flowers, or poison ivy. These are all natural but some of us will react when coming in contact with them. I personally have allergies to sage when in bloom, and my skin goes ballistic if I even brush up against juniper, yet I can roll in poison ivy and not have a reaction...... go figure!

Synthetics can have the same effect. Some will react in severe ways while others will do just fine. It depends on the level of sensitivity our skin has to the chemical processes an ingredient might go through since it may not be the ingredient necessarily, but what chemicals were used to create it. And this process is not required to be on the label.

What Synthetics Can Pose Problems For Skin Health

Synthetic skincare is widely used, yet synthetic ingredients are being demonized by watchdog groups who claim they can show long term ill effects to our bodies. What I also find however, most of this information is suspect when I see huge data gaps and antiquated information being used to support a "precautionary principle" standard.

The most popular chemicals these political groups claim that are a cause for concern (or should say under attack) are Propylene Glycol, Phthalates, Artificial Fragrances, Dyes and Lakes, and SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). There are other chemical synthetics infused into skincare lines and many which I can't pronounce, much less spell. These products when used by the consumer may cause a reaction, plug pores, as much as any other certain natural ingredient can, may give pause to what our skin may be absorbing, because our skin can absorb these chemicals at some level. However, it is better to identify the level at which they are actually penetrating deeply enough to reach the dermis layer, whereby crossing into the blood brain barrier. In terms of how the science community describes skin penetration, it is highly unlikely since skin is an impermeable barrier, if the actual truth be known.

To date cosmetics have the best safety record in history and there isn't any reason to believe they are the cause of long term ill effects. Basically, all the lopsided theories in regard to the personal care products is speculative rather than actual science. Make no mistake however, our skin is the largest organ on our body and its our first line of defense against sun, pollution and toxic ingredients whereby creating a barrier against outside assaults to our body, so we must take care of it properly.

Some products use synthetics extensively, which includes preservatives and just a touch of botanicals and claim it is natural or organic for the skin. When reading the ingredient label, you kind of have to wonder, what is the point? When the products primarily consist of synthetic chemicals with a few fancy organics, the benefits an organic can offer is negated by the synthetics used.

The Botanical Ingredient Alternative With True Benefits

When dealing with Botanically derived skincare, the majority of ingredients are highly concentrated, are in their purest form, and through gentle extraction methods, the natural holistic benefits are retained.

Essential oils, Distillates, Nut Butters, Herbal Extracts and Cold Pressed Oils are among the finest and most expensive ingredients found in a skincare line geared toward keeping it pure, natural, with skin reactions being quite rare since many of the ingredients have been shown their benefits throughout the ages in holistic or Ayurvedic medicine.

Synthetics have not and are never used for Holistic Health Care.

Making The Argument

There are those that believe organics can't do the same thing as a synthetic chemical counterpart, convinced that science is perfection for accomplishing the impossible. Well, science is important since it is science combined with nature that creates the best skincare products. Holistic healing and Ayurveda are sciences of ancient origin and it is through the combination of using gentle botanicals, natures' healing processes are in tune with our body, mind and soul. It is the whole package.

Also when using skincare which is comprised of mostly organics, a person used to using synthetically derived skincare will realize how very little of the organic skincare it takes to achieve similar or better results on their skin. Synthetic chemicals can sit on the skin or are absorbed in their unchanged state since they will not synthesize with skin due to them not being synergetic with our skin cells. (Example: Micro Collagen, though it sounds great, does not replace our own collagen)

Organics are by the very definition, synergetic to our bodies since they are derived from living organisms which are bio-available to our skin cells and will be quite soothing and cooling to the skin. They possess skin toning effects, and age-defying properties and can be a collagen stimulant, but they will not go beyond what genetics has created for us. No product can! Only a very tiny bit of a botanical ingredient is necessary. When combined with other rich botanicals, the results are an extremely concentrated effective form of skincare which is in tune with our bodies. Our skin further benefits from a botanical ingredients' effects which provides nutrients rich in vitamins and minerals, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties.

Tip: Don't use more than what is directed since this will not make it work faster or better, but will be a waste of product. You will know if you are using too much if your skin feels greasy or oily for any length of time after application. Your skin should feel supple and soft after an application. Products sitting on top of the face is the excess. Our skin can only take up what it needs and anything more is wasted and could cause adverse effects such as having an occlusive effect, perhaps perpetuating more acne cycles.

Proper Application Ratios

The woman on the right is what most of us are used to when applying commercial preparations of skincare. It takes this much in order for our skin to feel moisturized and supple, plus this is how many companies prescribe its' use so they can sell more skin cream since you will use it up much faster. Silicone oils and propylene glycol are what give commercial preparations their slip across the skin, yet this can leave our skin feeling oily or greasy if too much is used. Also, many companies claim to be oil free, yet I submit to you, silicone is a synthetically derived oily substance.

Example: Dimethicones and Cyclomethicones can be found in many serums and face creams including some of the most expensive on the market and can be occlusive to skin. These synthetic oils also are not moisturizing per se, but actually are utilized in skincare to help prevent moisture loss.

The woman on the left is using the correct amount for a botanical line of skincare. Just a dab on the tip of the finger is all that is required for best results, and it is about the size of a Pearl. This is ample to do the face, neck, and decolletage. Natural oils, butters, vegetable glycerin combined with moist skin are what provide the slip to botanical preparations. And in their concentrated, purist form are readily absorbed directly into the epidermis layer and beyond, giving truly exceptional benefits through going beyond just sitting on top of the skin.

More On What Can Be Expected For Acne Prone Skin

Now I wanted to explain in more detail about switching skincare regimens since I touched on this in my Acne article and what a person prone to acne may expect. As I explained, when changing skincare regimens acne may appear to get worse over the course of the next several weeks while the skin regenerates. But what I didn't explain is what exactly is going on during this time.

When using synthetic chemicals for clearing up acne, like hydrogen peroxide, benzoyl peroxide, AHA's, or BHA's, these all work to suppress and / or keep pores open and clear, free of sebum buildup through something similar to exfoliation of skin.

When botanicals are used they work in a different context. Botanicals will actually assist your skin and / or body to expel the impurities from your system. A detoxification process is occurring within the skin cells. This can show outwardly such as with the case of acne. This can be in the form of a few new pimples or a massive outbreak.

Now this is the real kicker for some and might be difficult to believe; a pimple takes 3-6 weeks to form under the skin. You will not even know it is there until it pops up of its own accord over time. This is why our faces will get the occasional zit or several pimples here and there. It is all about timing and how and when the pimple began to form. One day of not cleaning our face, wearing a pore clogging makeup, perspiration under a headband left on too long. The pimple forming was created by something we missed or did to our skin several weeks back.

Patience Is Key

So now we introduce an all natural organic line of products designed to detoxify and gently exfoliate through natural fruit acids. Solutions that will not cause burning or stinging like Glycolic Acid in its' concentrated form. Some will either get a little pimple or none at all and their skin will remain flawless, or they may have a severe breakout and will instantly think they are having a reaction to the products. As much as we want to believe it, science tells us otherwise. An immediate reaction within a few days of using botanicals means that the pimples you see whether coming up a few at a time or in a massive way is the detoxification of the impurities being pulled from the skin. This is why acne pops up for those with acneic skin continuously throughout their lives, because with other chemicals the products clear pores of sebum or suppress the acne but don't get to the underlying cause. Detoxing the skin of the impurities that contribute to skin cell buildup and pore blockage such as pollutants and dirt in the air are the real cure. Plus the added bonus of botanical ingredients....they work to dissolve sebum buildup and reduce its' production, giving you a healthier complexion overall.

Most commercial cleansers clean the surface of our skin and can be irritating and drying since many contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (Detergent), but rarely gets into the pores. Only a botanical ingredient can provide skin benefits due to it being synergistic with our skin cells other than a BHA (Salicylic Acid) which can cause delay in cell regeneration due to its composition of it systemically working deep within the pore to keep it clear. This is not detoxifying the skin, but mechanical removal through the use of a chemical for keeping our skin free of acne. This can also be quite harsh to delicate skin, giving the appearance of the skin being in a constant state of inflammation.

An allergic reaction would not be an acne result, but an irritation, swelling, stinging or redness which may occur if you are sensitive to a product or ingredient.

The good and bad news: bad news first..... It can take up to 60 days for a complete detox of your skin and prevention of future outbreaks. This only stands to reason due to the fact it can take up to 6 weeks alone, not a few days, for a pimple to form from something we did to our skin then.

Now for the good news...... Once detox has occurred and we now have created a new environment on the skin, one that resists bacterial growth, then skin will remain healthier and fewer outbreaks to none at all will occur over time. It is simply having to endure the process and to have patience with the progression our skin must go through to be clear of problems. And though frustrating and we all want immediate results, natural holistic remedy is not rapid but works with our own body's immune system to correct what is happening within our bodies and this takes time.

There is one silver lining to this process though...using our mineral powders will help to conceal and calm erythema, soothe the pain associated with acne or skin ulcerations, making the process a bit easier to endure. Women have noted their skin felt less inflamed and acne pain was alleviated during the day after applying their mineral powders. So keep using your minerals during the transition to healthier skin.

Just remember not all types of acne are related to plugged pores solely, other genetic and medicinal or hormonal factors can play a role, but through better skincare even these can be greatly reduced in being a factor in acneic skin. And in some very severe cases, certain types of acne will still require medical attention, certain types which I will not explain here. Sometimes medicine combined with holistic care can bring about excellent results. Great resources to better understand the different types of acne can be found on Web MD,, or simply google "acne afflictions" or "different types of acne".

I hope this has explained and clarified the differences in skincare products and how and why they work. For a full description of every ingredient in ONATI Skin Care visit our ingredient glossary.

I wish everyone continued skin health.

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